Silverchair recently announced the launch of Composer, a new authoring product that extends first-class publication treatment to content such as blogs, commercial or sponsored content, journalistic features, marketing pieces, news, or white papers. In this interview, Silverchair’s Senior Marketing Manager Stephanie Lovegrove Hansen sits down with Product Strategist Hannah Heckner to go behind the scenes on the product’s development and what comes next.

Watch the interview or read the transcript below:

SLH: Can you tell us more about the impetus behind the tool?

HH: We started developing Silverchair Composer back in February, wanting to provide a place for the content that isn’t going to easily fit into the research structure that we have created with the platform. This is content that a lot of our publishers are currently creating and it is also probably content they’re wanting to create in the future. Right now this content is being shoe-horned into something that’s vaguely like a research container but a lot of times it’s being hosted on platforms outside of the Silverchair Platform, so by bringing that content on the Silverchair Platform, our publishers are going to see improved discoverability, improved workflows, and also the capability to have that content flow into widgets.

We also wanted to not only allow that content to be published on the platform, but also authored in an easier way. So we’ve developed the tool with what is referred to as a WYSIWYG (which just stands for “what you see is what you get”) interface and this means that, say, a marketing assistant at a publisher who might not be html-savvy is going to be able to create a post using templates that have been created and highlight content with underlines and other html formatting without having to know how to do the actual html.

 

SLH: That’s super useful – that’s wonderful. I know you've spoken to a lot of publishers about the tool and how they can take advantage of it and bring more of their content under a single user experience. What has the reception been from the people you’ve talked to, and what are some of the use cases they’re thinking about when they think about the tool?

HH: People are really excited to hear about this, so that’s been really fun and it’s been great to have those conversations. We’re actually hearing a lot of use cases that we weren’t initially thinking of. There’s of course marketing blogs that might publish alongside a journal, association news pieces that might be considered “front matter” for certain associations where they’d be able to use Composer, but we’re also realizing that there’s great potential to use Composer for things like a multimedia portal. Or even an easier place to author content that is informational content about a journal. And having that on the platform means that it’s going to be even more discoverable than through the self-serve capabilities that are currently on the platform. I’ll also say that while we’re looking to satisfy that kind of in-between content, content created on Composer is also going to be able to have a lot of the same characteristics as research content. You’re going to be able to assign a DOI and have content created on Composer appear alongside journal content and vice versa.

 

SLH: That’s exciting to hear - when you build something, and you give it to the users and they have all these other ways that they use it and it kind of becomes its own creature. So that’s exciting to see publishers using it in all these various ways. So, the Composer launch coincides with the release of two other platform tools (Radiate 2.0, which is the downstream deposits tool, and the announcement of Silverchair Analytics). How are all these things that are coming out at the same time related to Silverchair's overall Product strategy?

HH: Yeah, 2020 has been busy, for sure! We always like to say that developments on the Silverchair Platform are being done to save our publishers money, to help them make money, and/or to help them fulfill their missions, and I think this trio of offerings is very indicative of that. You think of analytics and deposit as core capabilities for a publishing platform. All our competitors are helping publisher to set up those deposits, monitor those, and offer publishers views into the usage that’s coming out of the platform. But Radiate 2.0 and Silverchair Analytics really take those core capabilities and take it a step further. We’re offering our publishers more transparency into the workflows and backend activities that happen on the platform. And we’re also giving them a lot of agency. Radiate 2.0 is going to allow publishers to create downstream deposits far more easily. It’s done through a really slick interface, and they’re also going to have a license to an outside service (Microsoft's PowerBI) in order to see some reporting on those deposits and set up custom reports to see how those deposits go. Radiate 2.0’s improvements are also going to allow for different kinds of deposits. Publishers will be able to create a SOLR query through our search engine across different facets and be able to send that package of content to a downstream third party.

With analytics it’s very similar. We’re doing a lot of the same things we’ve already been doing, we’ll of course continue to offer COUNTER reports and publisher reports, but we’re also going to offer a license (also through PowerBI) for publishers to create custom reports that suit their business needs. So we’re really excited about all of this.

 

SLH: Yeah, lots going on! There's clearly a lot of momentum with the platform developments and the Product team – so what's next for Composer? You mentioned this is constantly being worked on and updates are constantly being released, so is there anything coming out that you're particularly excited about?

HH: Yeah, launches are by no means the end of the story for our products here. So we already have a roadmap of ideas that we want to bring onto Composer as we have publishers adopt it, and we also of course will look to them for feedback too. One thing I’m excited about is improvements to the backend workflow. So should publishers decide to add workflows and approval processes to their Composer posts, these updated will make that a little more streamlined and easy to follow.  But I think something that’s a little more flashy is that we’re planning to support the carousel widget in Composer, so that will allow images and multimedia to circulate in a carousel on Composer posts which is functionality that we offer on our homepages for publishers. So those are two things I’m excited about.

 

SLH: That ties in nicely with the multimedia use case you mentioned earlier, so that’s very cool. Well, thank you so much. This is a nice overview and it’s nice to get the behind-the-scenes view of the product.

If anyone is interested in learning more, you can visit our website (www.silverchair.com/composer) or you can reach out directly to Hannah and we’ll be happy to show you more.

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